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You run into some of the most lovely parents in mall play areas, don’t you?*
I recall one particularly memorable dad and his toddler daughter from a few years ago, more for his words than his actions. To cut to the chase, on several occasions I heard him call his little girl a turd. Affectionately. As in “Oh, just look at you running around and playing you little turd.”
It’s the kind of thing you witness in simple disbelief. How can a parent think it’s right, okay, normal, or even funny to call his kid a name that, in a nutshell, means “s***?” To me that’s just telling your daughter “you know what, I really just wanted a son, so I’m going to start degrading you as a human being right now.”
With that kind of start, things can only possibly go one way… downhill:
“You graduated college, way to go you moronic half-wit!”
“You’re engaged? What’s the piece of crap’s name?!?”
“I love you so much, stupid!”
“I’m so happy to have you as my daughter, you %#^~¥@%# %#^£€%%#*£ing %##?!¥.”
It’s time to really start thinking about the language we are using towards our children and realizing that we’re messing with their lives, their selves and their futures. And this message isn’t just for the dad with the incredibly poor choice of verbiage when it comes to the “terms of endearment” he chooses for his child. All of us parents need to remember that our children are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. Not one of us is infallible, and every one of us has room to improve the way we treat and talk to our kids.
There is little doubt in my mind that turd-dad was once called degrading things by his own mother and/or father, and he has only learned to pass this on to his own child. Ignorance begets ignorance. Take a deep, self-reflective look at your own parenting style. What legacy are you passing on to your children?
Dads (and Moms too): Isn’t it cute when your little boy or girl looks up at you and let’s you know that when they’re all grown up they want to get married… …to you?
Yes, that’s right. That’s not cute, that’s creepy. And weird.
But what do children know about life, anyway? If they knew everything, they wouldn’t need us, would they? After all, it only gets weirder. You see, the daughter of the artist of this fine website has a play-date-friend who she stated that she would like to marry someday… a play-date-friend who also happens to be another girl.
So what do you say when your 3yo daughter tells you she wants to marry her 3yo female compadre when she grows up? A woman marrying *gasp* another woman??
Sorry, but this situation isn’t creepy anymore, and it’s not really weird, either… unless you happen to live in a cave.
…now you have to explain it to a small kid, who really isn’t ready for absolutely every detail about the things that grown-ups do in this world…
…do you tell her that some day she might marry her tiny BFF? How about that they can get married but if they want kids they might need a little (*ahem*) help. Or you can just go straight-up with the whole “marriage is for a mommy and a daddy” line.
Sure you can roll with that last one, but beware that by the time your kid is all grown up she’ll know a few truths about existence.* I’m sticking with the one answer that I know how to give:
“When you’re old enough to get married, you’ll know who you want to marry.
“…and I can guarantee it won’t be Daddy.”**
* Unless, of course, you brainwash her just right
** (or Mommy)
I always thought that parental blogging wars were best left to the bloggerhood of moms. Fights like Bottle Vs. Breast, Spanking Vs. Timeouts, and Drunk Mom Vs. Sober Mom and more rage throughout the maternal side of the internet on a daily and nightly basis. I thought that Dad bloggers, at least this one in particular, were immune.
Begun the Dad War has.
It started recently as a variation of one of the more popular internet mother battles – the Working Mom Vs. Stay At Home Mom*. This inevitable dogfight is that of the SAHD Vs. The Working Dad, and neither side is giving up his foothold. Both think they are doing their job, and each side feels like their territory is being infringed upon by the other.
The SAHD cares for his kids by being a modern day multi-tastic parental whirlwind of caregiving power. He overcomes male stereotypes, has a great sense of how to raise his kids his way, and knows what to do in order to keep his parental working counterpart on top of the game as well. Cooking? Cake. Cleaning? Easy. Diapers? No problemo. The SAHD does it all and a little bit more, and is on call 24/7 for his family. That’s always.
Working Dad, on the other hand, is the epitome of what a Dad was made to do. He brings home the bacon, wins the bread and wears the pants. His adoring family is waiting for him when he walks in the door at the end of a hard day so he can put his feet up, eat his homecooked meal, spend some time with his wife and kids, and hit the hay. Why does his his family treat him right? Because he works hard for the money. Honey.
It was only a matter of time before these two dads began to butt heads in an all out brawl for the battle of who is a better father. Which one am I? Right now, I am Working Dad.
What about SAHD? Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time. And no, he’s not dead. He’s me.
Here’s the deal. I spent a good portion of my time as an at-home-dad, and now that I’ve got some time in as a working parent, I’ve found that I still get to do all the things I used to do for my family. It’s certainly not easy, but such are the choices we make. I choose to do as much as I can to try to be the most I can for my family.
But that’s just me, people. The most important thing for other familes is that they choose the roles that fit them best. Silly little battles of my personal choice versus your personal choice are just that – silly. What’s the point of fighting, even, when there are other families who are in their situation without the luxury of choice? This applies to all the “battles” of parenting: moms who can’t breast feed for medical reasons; dads and moms who lost their jobs and don’t have a choice of who is staying at home; widowed single parents.
The list of situations that aren’t you are endless. Stop fighting them and start winning your own battles. My own rages on, but I’ll keep fighting until I can just be “Dad.”
* More popularly known as SAHMs which is so much cooler sounding than SAHD or “Sad.”
[Note: While Phil begins his journey down Working Dad Road, John is continuing the path of SAHD/at-home-part-time-working dad. One of the reasons we started this blog to begin with was that we both simply wanted to be better dads. I can't speak for John, but I'm pretty sure we've achieved that, although many challenges await both of us, as well as all parents. Let's fight together! And we'll never forget our awesome, hardworking wives, either, without whom the fight would be unimaginably more difficult. _Phil]
Is that not one of the best exclamations you can make as a parent?
My younger of two had a fantastic breakthrough at the State Fair last weekend. She decided to man up and stop being afraid of riding some of the “bigger” children’s rides. Prior to that event, she wouldn’t go on Ferris wheels, roller coasters, and some of the faster spinny rides. I would ask her when her big sister would go on them if she wanted to as well, and her answer was always no, and I’d leave it at that.
The last “issue” we had with her riding rides was two years ago at the same event. She wanted to go on one of the innocuous slow-spinning rides, but once the ride started the tears started flowing while I helplessly pleaded with her from outside of the fence to “oh please please just don’t try to get out please please…” until it stopped.* I felt bad, but at least I didn’t force her to go on it. Not my policy. For the next two years, she and I both knew her boundaries of what she was afraid to go on and what she was not.**
Then this year’s breakthrough happened. She bravely told me that this year she was ready for the “big kid” rides. When I watched her on the kid’s coaster I could see fear in her eyes, but it was quickly taken over by the look of a child who had conquered her fears, followed finally by exuberant excitement. My kids proceeded to wear me out the rest of the day, going on anything and everything that their respective heights allowed.
I was even invited to go on the kiddie coaster where I watched my 6yo with her hands in the air in front of us and got to put my arm proudly around my 4yo who smiled one of those biggest and beamiest kinds of grins in my direction.
What a proud moment for a dad. She conquered her own fears on her own terms. Now she got to ride the wave.
* Obviously I got my photos and video of this while it was transpiring; that’s my job.
** Yes, pretty much only merry-go-rounds with me holding on to her shirt.
A DVS Medically Unfounded Yet Oddly Acurate Parental Condition: Phantom Crying.
Finally (and somewhat miraculously) you’ve gotten your child to take a nap. Does that mean break time? Heck no, parent, it means catch-up time.
Before you even start, though, a familiar squeal emanates from across the house. #&*@. Baby’s crying. So you trudge on over, peek in the door, and there laying in the crib… a sleeping and perfectly peaceful baby. Hmm… you shrug it off and head over the vacuum cleaner.
Not two seconds after turning it on, though… “wwWWWAAAAAAHHH.” And what happens the moment you click off the VC? The baby stops as well. It then happens twice more. You weave your way through your unfinished house-ly tasks and peek in the kid’s room only to find exactly what you found before. A completely undisturbed and sleeping child. Huh?
1.) Background noises are being mistaken for baby cries.
2.) The kid is crying at inopportune times.
3.) The kid is crying at inopportune time. Just to mess with your head.
4.) Your house is haunted by a creepy neglected ghost-baby.
5.) You’re going off the deep end.
Common sense should prevail and the explanation should simply be (1) or (2). However, raising children tends to make you just a little rocky in the whole “sanity” department.
I’m going with a little bit of (3) and a little bit of (5). No matter what, “Phantom Crying” is just a tiny example of what the lethal combination of sleep deprivation and dealing with tiny humans on a daily basis can do to your brain. I could go on, but I think there’s a baby crying.
Oh, wait, they’re both at school. Must be (4).
[insert maniacal laugh track here]
“Daddy, I’m bored.”
“Look out the window, then.”
Child’s answer to said solution:
“Daddy, I’m bored.”
The typical modern parent understands that the child in this situation is only trying to get one thing: that parent’s smartphone for the ride home. I used to cave and give up the phone, rather than put up with hearing the “bored” line four thousand more times before getting home. Now, though, I take a more hard line approach. I let the kid stay bored.
In other words, a “new” parental sensibility has taken over now that the kids are old enough to fend for themselves a bit. It can be summed up as the feeling that I also was a child once, I was often bored while being one, and I got through it without constantly having a screen of distractions shoved in my face.
Sometimes the boredom was alleviated with made-up games, and other times with simple objects or toys. Learning to read made it easier to avoid, but sometimes boredom was never alleviated at all. Bored kids back then had two choices: start doing something or stay bored.*
A “smart phone” has plenty of positive things and educational tools that parents and kids can utilize to pass the time. Too bad kids don’t gravitate to those, eh? Let’s not forget that a kid’s greatest learning tool is that kid’s own brain. Make him use it for himself, even if that means he’ll be telling you “he’s got nothing to do” unless there’s a tablet PC on his lap. Don’t fall for that. Kids have built-in mechanisms in their brain, specifically designed to conquer boredom.
Those mechanisms are more commonly referred to as “imaginations.”
* Okay, sometimes we still had television.
by: John G. Simon
We listen to a very wide variety of music in this household. We have the good ‘oldies’ like 90′s skate punk and 00′s indie rock that we listen to nostalgically. Our kids hear the sounds of Jazz singers from days past and bluegrass pickers from the local radio. We really do listen to just about everything, even a little country and rap. It’s hard to decide what to not let the kids hear, but recently there have been a couple of songs from the radio that have gotten stuck in the heads of our innocent-eared kids. These songs are quite inappropriate and we try to avoid them if we can.
Here are the recent winner’s of songs we avoid but the kids decided are their favorites. Remember, these kids of ours are 3 and 5 yr olds.
#1: Flo Rida – “Whistle”
Now I know what you’re thinking, how could I even let the kids hear this song? Well, I honestly never really listened to the lyrics. The infectious whistle clouded my hearing. By the time I realized what the words were actually saying the kids had already decided they liked the song. They think it’s a funny song about a baby who can whistle. I mean, a whistling baby does sound pretty entertaining. Well, we decided they can’t listen to it any longer and they are disappointed and confused. But I am not going to have my kid singing that song in public.
#2: Bruno Mars: “Locked Out Of Heaven
This song has a bit of a different story. It’s not exactly banned, but we have to do a bit of volume “dj parent” editing when listening to it. Specifically the S-E-X word. Other than that, the song is fairly adult coded so as to not be repeatable or understandable by the kids. But still, it’s not really appropriate AT ALL. So what’s the appeal of the song for them? It’s the part where Mr. Mars goes… Ah Ah Ah, Ah, Ah Ah Ah, OO! Especially the OO part. This makes the kids laugh. So we allow it to a certain extent. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just weak parenting but it’s fun to see the kids laugh.
#3: Taylor Swift: “Never Getting Back Together”
So apparently my 3yr. old daughter is a Taylor Swift fan. This song more scares me about the future than anything else. I mean, it’s so girl teen angsty in the worst ways possible. I don’t want my daughter to relate to on and off again relationship antics like Ms. Swift. Like EVER! This one isn’t inappropriate enough to volume edit or keep off, but it still makes me uneasy.
#4: Ke$ha: Die Young
So I have mixed feelings about this song. The first time the kids realized the lyrics, they had so many questions. Like, what does dying young mean? I mean come on, that’s not exactly the discussion I wanted to have on a pleasant Tuesday morning. So we did our best and got them comfortable with the fact that mostly only old people die. But they understand that sometimes bad things happen. We reminded them about Heaven and angels and such. But now they think it would be awesome to die young so they can live with angels. But they’d miss mommy and daddy since it’s a one way trip. So they decided they’ll stay here. Whew! The draw for them to the song is the catchy dance beat. But life and death discussions with small children is draining and tricky as a parent, so this song is ‘Avoided’ but not banned.
#5: Cursive: Sink to the Beat
Ok, so this song is not banned or necessarily inappropriate. But I find it odd for this to be my 3yr old daughter’s favorite song. Maybe she’s rebelling against the other music we allow her to listen to. She calls it’ the ‘yelling song’ and we have to listen to it over and over and over. I mean, I like the song, but a child’s persistent listening can make a parent crazy even when it’s “your music”. It is impressive the words she does pick up in it though.
So what’s the moral of the story here? Maybe that modern culture and its music will corrupt your kids? Hmmm. Maybe.
I think it does bring up for me the idea of what is age appropriate or not. Some of the things in these songs we can talk about to the kids. Like death and relationships. So these cultural issues are kind of things that help to raise strong kids who know about various interpersonal situations. As for the other, actually inappropriate, stuff in the other songs, we won’t have to worry about that for a good long time. Like at least 20 years right?
Enjoy the tunes! They may not be safe for your kids ears, but they’ll probably hear them anyway.
What have you been listening to that might not be kid friendly? Or am I the only terrible parent?
…and he flies off when they’re awake? To the North Pole? An Elf? Who spend time on shelves? What the hell?
Nah, forget that. I’m talking about the big guy. The head honcho. Numero uno Santa de Claus.
Just take a moment this year to remember the whole point of Santa, which is to make your kids act like perfect angels for two months out of the year. Crap, that’s not it.
The point of Santa is to deliver all the hottest toys to your spoiled children.*
Nah, wrong again. Honestly, Santa has much better things to do than make sure your kids are being good. It’s your job, parent, to teach them how to behave themselves rather than to threaten them with less toys underneath the tree on Christmas Day. Seriously, are you going to take the toys back to the store the day after Christmas?** Of course you’re not going to. Santa Claus, in truth, delivers tons of presents to perfectly bad children every year on Christmas.
So the next time you decide when your child is misbehaving that the best action is to threaten that Santa will not deliver their toys: don’t. Cripes, you’re already lying to them that Santa exists in the first place. Try a different method this year. Go with the Elf on the Shelf to do the same thing.
Kidding. Do the right thing and go get a book on how to be a better, and more patient, parent. Ask for one for Christmas. It’s better than lying to your children. Am I right?
* Just imagine the implications of having to redo all of the factories up there in the North Pole every year. Mind boggling.
** Standing in those lines is somewhere I guarantee I’ll never be. Who does that and why???